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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Baked Potato Fries

Okay who doesn't like french fries? Lezbehonest: no one. As much as we hate to admit it, we're all basically addicted. Even as someone who has seen the film "Super Size Me" way too many times, when faced with an order of McDonald's french fries, I just can't seem to say no. Oops. Well, I wanted to make french fries in a way that my body would actually be able to digest. Regular Idaho and Sweet potatoes get baked and roasted for a while in the oven, and develop not only a crispy outside skin, but also intense caramelized flavors. Think of them as gourmet french fries. Ya they're no Micky D's, but they're pretty dam good and just as addicting.

Baked Potato Fries

2 Idaho potatoes
2 sweet potatoes
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 handful fresh rosemary

Recipe: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the potatoes lengthwise into strips, and then halve them, leaving the skin on. Put them in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, a generous amount of salt and pepper,  garlic powder, and the fresh rosemary. Use your hands to mix it all together, ensuring that the potatoes are all covered. Arrange them on a baking sheet in an even layer and put in the oven. Bake for 45 mins to 1 hour, until they are tender and have developed a nice roasted coloring. Use a spatula to turn them over after 20 minutes. ENJOY.
 and after the oven they turn into art.
 seriously this is museum worthy art
 potatoes be poppin

baked is the new fried

Raspberry Muffins

Let's just stop kidding ourselves now. Who in the world came up with the idea that muffins were an okay breakfast food? Honestly, muffins are an excuse to eat dessert for breakfast. Somehow by changing the name, throwing in some fruit, and replacing the frosting with a crumble topping, it is socially acceptable to eat cupcakes in the morning. Whoever did invent this, I thank and praise you and your genius. A muffin in the morning is just the best. Muffins should be thick, dense, and *i'm sorry I hate this word SO much but I have to use it* moist, completely cake-like if you will. Enjoyed with steaming coffee, a cup of coco, or any other b-fast beverage, this is the way to start your day. These muffins are filled with fresh raspberries and topped with a cinnamon crumble and are truly divine. Dedicated to the biggest raspberry lover I know, B, these are for you. All 24 of em.

Raspberry Muffins, makes 24 *adapted from a William Sonoma recipe for blueberry muffins


for topping
1/2 cup flour
4 tbs granulated sugar
4 tbs light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbs cold butter

14 tbs unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
4 1/2 cups flour
8 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups milk
3 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups fresh or frozen raspberries

Recipe: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. For the topping, combine the flour, sugars, and cinnamon in a bowl and mix until well combined. Using your fingers or an electric mixer, cut or rub the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbs form. Set aside.
In a bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl combine the dry ingredients, the baking powder, flour, and salt. Add half the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, and then add the milk and vanilla. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients and beat for about 3 minutes until fluffy and well combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides to ensure all the little bits are incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the raspberries. Spoon the batter into greased muffin pan/cupcake liners so the batter is even with the rim of the cup and sprinkle each muffin with some of the topping. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a tester inserted comes out clean.
 making muffin tops acceptable
 cupcakes for breakfast is my style
 its just bleeding raspberry love

muffin tops appreciated

Monday, July 30, 2012

Chimichurri Skirt Steak

Tonight for dinner I made some serious magic. After going to the butcher and picking up some beautiful mammoth-sized skirt steaks, I started brainstorming ideas on how to cook them I wanted to somehow make the steak summery and light, as it was just too hot for heaviness. And then, it came to me, a chimichurri. Originally from Argentina, chimichurri is an herb based marinade and/or sauce that will lighten up any meat and give it a powerful flavor punch. I made up my own version and happened to have beautiful fresh herbs in my garden *I know I actually sound like my idol Ina Garten right now tehe* that really enhanced the flavor. Let's just say, it was a TOTAL HIT, like grand slam status. I made a healthy sized portion of the sauce and used it to not only marinade the steaks, but to dip it in afterwards as well. It's herby, tangy, light, and spicy, and will take any meat from boring to beyond.
Chimichurri Skirt Steak (makes enough for a marinade for 2 lbs. of steak, and dipping sauce)

1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 bunch curly leaf parsley
1 bunch cilantro
1 handful chives
1 small Vidalia onion
1 jalapeño pepper
1 banana supreme pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
juice of 3 limes
1/2 cube of raw ginger
garlic powder

Recipe: Coarsely chop the herbs, onion, and peppers. Put these along with all the rest of the ingredients into a food processor or blender. Purée until smooth and thick. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Put your steaks into a large plastic bag. Pour 1/3 of the sauce into the bag and let the steaks marinate for at least an hour.
Cook on the grill on high, each side about 3-5 minutes on each side for medium. Serve with more sauce on the side
our fresh herbs <3.and proof I picked these herbs. Ina I'm on my way up.

our BEAUTIFUL chimichurri sauce. Call me the green goddess. 

 marinated steak hits the grill. check out those char marks.
 and I mean is that nice or is that nice?
 throw some more sauce on and you're GOOD

cha cha for churri

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Red Rooster

Price: $$$
Forks: 8

310 Malcolm X Boulevard
Harlem, NY10027
Red Rooster was on my list, and has been for a while. I have a minor obsession with the head chef, Marcus Samuelsson, as I think his background, story, and of course talent, are fascinating and inspiring. I’m also a sucker for Southern food. Well, for my birthday my DEAR friend Shein *Andrew to strangers* told me he wanted to take me to dinner. Since I had planned him a surprise party, *you’re welcome J* he wanted to make it a surprise and pick the place, so he told me to send him my “list.” Now, I’m sure you all have a list, and if you don’t, start one. When we hopped in a cab and he told the driver the address was in Harlem I knew immediately where we were headed and MAN was I excited. We pulled up to what seemed to be another world; a light strung, hopping restaurant that was blasting reggae music. When we walked in, we were truly transported. A DJ was spinning the tunes right next to the door, a circular bar filled the front room, and a cool, hip, and what I’d like to describe as “extremely chilled rastafariean-esque crowd” was gathered round. 
 how chic
 This place had a kickin vibe and it was awesome. I just felt cooler being in the room. What was not so awesome, however, was the 30 minute wait for our table. Are they too cool to seat us? Not fun. Once we were seated at small communal tables, it was all made better by the fact that I had a kitchen view. Happy Birthday enough right there.  I longingly gazed as sizzling chops, steaming collard greens, and other soulful dishes were being rushed and bussed constantly.
 The menu was simple and not very long, but boasted a variety of options. To start, we went for the Jerk Bacon & Egg and the side of cornbread. Served over a thick mixture of smoky brown beans were two plump seared pieces of jerk rubbed pork belly, a runny fried egg, and a spicy cabbage slaw. The pork belly was tender, just fatty enough, and totally melted in your mouth. The jerk rub gave it a flavor jolt, an unusual taste that was more then welcomed. Combined with the richness of the runny egg and the intensely flavored beans it was a crazy Southern/Jamaican spin on my favorite breakfast foods. Throw in the spicy cabbage slaw to lighten the whole dish up, and it was perfection. We loved, this was Shein's favorite.
Then came the cornbread, which I had heard praise and admiration for. It came accompanied by honey butter and a tomato jelly and while it looked like any cornbread I’d had before, upon eating it I was skyrocketed into flavor town. It was heavenly and sweet, boasting whole kernels of corn that lavishly soaked up its accompaniments. If butter wasn’t so bad for me, I’d be eating this by the bucketful. Towards the end of the dish it was more like, “did I want some corn bread with my butter?” status. Tehe.
Next came our entrées, the Fried Yard Bird and the Pork Loin. The Fried Yard Bird, Red Rooster’s take on fried chicken, was good. Was it amazing? No. Was it all that it was cracked up to be? No. It was fine, the spicy seasoning it was served with was good but overall it was just a moderate fried chicken. Slightly disappointing when you're expecting the best fried chicken in the world.
 prettttty crispy.
The Grilled Pork Loin, however, was incredible. Topped with a boldly flavored spring mushroom ragu and sweet pea tendrils, this was just insane. It was perfectly cooked and super tender, literally lip-smacking status. Apart from the actually meat itself, the peas and mushroom topping carried the same killer juices and flavors yet maintained their vegetable lightness. It was awesome.
Yes it was for my birthday, but sometimes when you’re so full you can barely stand up, leaving dessert for next time is just a reason to come back. SO that's what we’ll have to do. Red Rooster’s atmosphere is amazing, stellar 10, and I give the food a 7.3,  so overall an 8. My soul left feeling well fed and loved. WHAT a birthday treat. Do I have a good pal or what?


Friday, July 27, 2012

Clams on Clams on Clams

Last week I got a call from my Dad. “Come to my office, I’ve got some fresh clams for ya!” Weird phone call, yes, but I was on my way. My Dad’s friend had given him some fresh clams *THANK YOU!* he had caught that past weekend and I was in charge of cooking them. My head was spinning with plans. So many broths and sauces, too few clams! Well, I couldn’t settle on one so I decided to split up the clams, add some shrimp, and make two different broths, one White Wine Lemon Butter, and one Thai Coconut Curry. The broths were sick. The White Wine was light and buttery and the wine flavor had perfumed the entire dish. Cooked with leeks, onions, and some chives, we devoured the clams then drank this as soup. YUM. The Thai Coconut Curry broth was KICKIN. It had spice, bold flavors, and a fresh aftertaste of cilantro and lime. Complete with some sliced mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and hot peppers, it was heaven.  With two bowls each, we silently slurped and slowly downed each one of our bowls, using thick pieces of olive oil herbed grilled bread to sop up the sauces. I knew I hit success when I caught Jake nodding to himself and smacking his lips. #SUCCESS. I also couldn’t decide which one I liked better. I’d have some of one, then try the other, think I liked the second better, but then go back to the first and change my mind. Not a bad problem to have though, am I right?
 Clams in a White Wine, Lemon, and Butter Sauce

Olive oil
4 tbs butter
2 large leeks
½ a Vidalia onion
3 green spring onions
1 handful fresh chives
1 handful fresh rosemary leaves
2 cloves garlic
¾ of a bottle dry white wine.
3 cups water
2 lemons
6 shrimp cleaned, peeled, devained
20 large clams

for garnish: melted butter, fresh chopped chives

Recipe: Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil. Heat on medium high. Once hot add the butter and let it melt. Once melted, throw in the leeks, onions, chives, and garlic. Cook down until leeks are soft, about 10 minutes. Add in the wine. Let the wine reduce a little, so some of the alcohol can burn off. Let it simmer for about 8 minutes. Then add the water and juice of the 2 lemons. Let it come to a boil. Once it is at a rolling boil, add the clams/shrimp. Cover the pot and let cook for about 10 minutes, until the shells of the clams open. Keep an eye not to overcook them. 
 Once done, spoon into large bowls. Top with a drizzle of melted butter and some fresh chives. Serve with grilled bread.
 I mean is this nice or is this nice?

Clams in a Thai Coconut Curry Broth

Olive oil
1 tbs minced ginger
½ a Vidalia onion
1 cup mushrooms of your choice
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 habanero pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic
2 cans unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups water
2 stalks lemongrass
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 tbs curry powder
juice of 3 limes
1 ½ tsp salt
6 shrimp,
20 large clams cleaned, peeled, devained

*you control the spice/heat/kick of this with the peppers
for garnish: cilantro, lime

Recipe: Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil. Heat on medium heat until hot. Once hot, turn down to medium heat and add the ginger, onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook down, about 10 minutes, until onions and mushrooms are extremely tender. Add the coconut milk and water and mix well. Then add the lemongrass stalks, tomatoes, curry powder, limes, and salt. Add more salt to taste. Stir the pot and let the mixture simmer and come to a boil. Add the clams and shrimp, cover the pot, and let steam until the shells open, about 10 minutes. 
 Serve in large bowls with grilled bread.
 and I mean is this a dream bite or what?
 yes, i'm catering now. call me.

gladly clammy

Bruschetta Quiche

How do you start your Saturday mornings? Some fresh squeezed OJ? A bowl of Wheaties? Some cartoons? Well, I respectfully decline to accept whatever you do to kick of your Saturday mornings unless eating this quiche is involved. Because that is what I do, and I’m telling you, it’s just the right thing. There’s just something about a piece of warm quiche that tastes like the weekend. It tastes carefree, warm, and comfortable, and lets you cozily linger into the rest of your day. Quiche is just a magical thing. A fluffy eggy cheesy concoction baked atop a flakey pastry crust. WHAT IS NOT TO LIKE?! While there are countless classic combinations of fillings for quiches, I decided to make my own based on one of my favorite summer foods: bruschetta.  A combination of fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, mozzarella and basil, bruschetta puts those gorgeous summer tomatoes to good use, which is why I wanted to translate this classic into my quiche. So that’s what I did. And I’m telling you, it’s unbelievable. Once you taste it you’ll understand my disregard of starting a Saturday morning off any other way.
Bruschetta Quiche

For pastry
1 ½ cups flour
8 tbs butter, cold
5 tbs chilled water

2 cups assorted colored tomatoes
olive oil
1 vidalia onion
3 cups shredded mozzarella
5 eggs
1 cup whole milk
basil paste

Recipe: For the pastry crust, cut the butter into small pieces. In an electric mixing bowl, combine the flour and the butter and mix until little ball shapes are formed. Add the salt and water and mix just until the dough comes together. Shape it into a ball with your hands and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out your crust into a thin circle, about ¼ of an inch thick, and lay it in your greased pie/tart pan. Fold a rustic crust, using the edges that hang over and folding them back on top. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden. If it starts to puff up, use the back of a wooden spoon to pat it back down.

For the filling: Halve the tomatoes, they should be about ½ inch sized pieces. We like them hearty. Roughly chop the onion into about ½ pieces as well. Heat a skillet on medium high with enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Once hot, add the onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes, remove from heat. In a large bowl crack the eggs and beat them well. Add the basil paste and mix well. Add the tomatoes, onions, and 2 cups of the mozzarella and stir until combined. Add 1 tsp salt and a few grinds of good black pepper. Pour the filling into the piecrust (its okay if the crust is still hot) and top it with the remaining shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the quiche is set. Remove from the oven and let rest about 10 minutes.

For serving: Either serve after it has rested or let it come to room temperature, cover it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it. To reheat it, cover it in tin foil and let it sit in the oven at a low temperature until warmed through.  
 now do you understand why this is how you have to start your Saturday morning?
 so rustic
 all the bruschetta-y goodness
 lets just say this didn't last very long.

quiche queen

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dulce de Leche Filled Salted Caramel Cupcakes

It's been a long sweet, sweet week. A week full of massive amounts of sugar, multiple pounds of butter,  bowls of frosting, and too many licked spoon. Needless to say, I think its been a success and I officially feel like my birthday has properly been celebrated. How do we end a deliciously sugary week? With somewhat of a bitter sweet note. You can't end the sweetest week of the year on something too sweet, it's got to leave a taste in your mouth that makes you want MORE. For that reason we are ending the to-be-annual cupcake week with Salted Caramel Cupcakes. YUM. Also for this recipe, I made homemade dulce de leche. Its basically a thick spreadable caramel that is absolutely insane. A brown sugar cupcake gets filled with a homemade creamy dulce de leche, topped with a caramel infused frosting, drizzled with more caramel, and sprinkled with flecks of sea salt. The salt is just the right finishing touch the cake needs to bring all the flavors together and highlight the beautiful richness of the caramel. Plus the sweet and salty contrast is 2D4. And as much as picking favorites of my recipes is like picking children, I have to say these are my favorite. And with this last cupcake, our week is officially over. I hope you enjoyed my birthday as much as I did.

Dulce de Leche Filled Salted Caramel Cupcakes

1 egg
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk
4 tbs melted butter
3/4 cup flour
1 pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup dulce de leche (store bought or homemade)
for homemade: 1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 stick softened butter
1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbs milk
3 tbs dulce de leche, cooled

Recipe: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the egg and sugar together. Whisk in the milk and vanilla until well combined. Then pour in the melted butter and mix in well. Gradually whisk in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Make sure to scrape the sides and get all the dry bits on the side incorporated. Slowly mix in the milk. Fill greased cupcake holders or cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15 minutes until the top is golden brown or a tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool.

If making homemade Dulce de Leche...
Turn the oven to 450 degrees. Open the condensed milk and pour it into a pie or cake pan. Cover this tightly with tin foil. Set this pan in a water bath (a larger pan filled with warm water) so the water comes up about 1/2 around the pie pan's edge. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, until golden brown. Stir once removed from the oven and then stick in the freezer to chill. 
For the frosting: In a bowl fitted with an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter. Then add the vanilla and milk. Gradually add in the powdered sugar and dulce de leche and beat on high for about 5 minutes, until light and extremely fluffy. 

Assembly: Using a knife, cut a small hole in the top of the cupcakes and remove the cupcake filling. 
Fill with dulce de leche.
Put the top back on.
Pipe a massive mound of frosting on top. Using a spoon, drizzle dulce de leche on top, then sprinkle with sea salt flakes.
 I'm out of descriptive words. Just enjoy.

cupcakes out.